Graduate Student Profiles

Frehiwot Woldeyes


MS in Bioengineering

What do you like most about the department? The scope is broad, and the course offerings are very specific to students’ area of interest, and the department has various research labs that students can choose from and engage in. In addition, students in the department are from different cultural backgrounds, which for me, an international student from Ethiopia, created a feeling of home.

Research project: I am working on developing a prototype for monitoring intracranial pressure for patients with traumatic brain injury in the Medical Accelerator for Devices Laboratory (MADLab). My involvement started with the development of an algorithm to interpret brain signals and later continued into the building of electrical models to acquire and process those signals.

How do you envision your lab participation helping you in your future career? I get exposure to MADLab’s diverse team in engineering, medicine, computer science, design, and business. It complements my engineering knowledge and gives me the necessary skill set that is required in the medical device industry.

Josh Smejkal

Josh Smejkal headshot

MS in Bioengineering ’20
Villa Park, IL

Academic focus: MRI imaging applications

How will society benefit from your research? My research is going to contribute to physicians’ abilities to diagnose lung conditions through MRI lung imaging. This type of advancement in technology could make current damaging imaging methods, such as x-ray, obsolete.

Most rewarding aspect of your study at UIC: The most rewarding part of my research is working with a diverse set of engineering disciplines. Every discipline within the college has been integral to my research.

Place you’re most likely to be found on campus: I am most likely to be found working hard in the bioengineering research labs and in the Engineering MakerSpace working on prototypes.

Grace Brown

student Grace Brown

PhD in Bioengineering ’21
Orland Park, IL

Research focus: Liver tissue engineering

Contribution to the field: I hope that my research broadens our understanding of basic liver biology. I also aim to improve human in vitro platforms for drug-induced liver injury to eliminate toxic compounds early in the drug development pipeline, before clinical trials.

Why UIC? I chose UIC BioE because of the awesome research opportunities provided by being associated with a top hospital system. They also provide great support for students in the College of Engineering.

Career edge: UIC constantly has individuals from different industries visiting, which further allows students to determine their optimal employment after graduation.

Favorite place in Chicago: The Riverwalk

Chiara Di Vece

Chiara Di Vece

MS in Bioengineering ’19

What are the advantages of studying abroad at UIC? You are allowed to approach things from a more practical point of view; maybe this is the greatest difference with respect to Italy.

Research project: I’m working on the development of a novel virtual/augmented reality and haptic simulator to improve learning of psychomotor skills required for urological surgery.

Why UIC Bioengineering? I have the possibility to work in close contact with urologists. Their collaboration is essential for the development of the most accurate simulator.

Impact of your research: I hope the simulator will allow practice in a safe environment with no risk of injury to patients. This could be useful above all for novice trainees who could have the possibility to learn, with adequate instruments, critical steps of a particular surgical procedure.

Nicholas Marjanovic

student Nicholas Marjanovic

PhD in Bioengineering ’20
Chicago, IL

Research focus: Mixed Reality in the field of medical simulators and trainers

Why UIC? I chose UIC because the College of Engineering is home to groundbreaking research in all fields of science and is actively open to fostering and engaging researchers in their interests.

The UIC advantage: One thing UIC does best above all the rest is allowing individuals to think outside the box and positively impact the community, domestic and abroad.

Favorite place in Chicago: Wicker Park

Xue Lei

student Xue Lei

MS in Bioinformatics ’19

Academic focus: Cancer variant/dynamic system/chromatin conformation in immunology

Why engineering, and why UIC? I wanted to transfer from basic science, such as physics, to an applied subject. The researchers here have a great passion for what they do!

What has been the most rewarding part of doing research here? The friendly faculty. All the principal investigators I get in touch with have given me great help.

How do you get around? I mainly walk.

Vignesh Natarajan

student Vignesh Natarajan

MS in Bioengineering ’20

Academic focus: Optics in bioengineering

Why UIC? As a bioengineer, I consider it paramount that the College of Engineering and College of Medicine are joined seamlessly. UIC has done an excellent job in making sure that the two colleges are working together, offering a healthy mix of subjects from both. Also, UIC was one of the few universities that had labs dedicated to optics in the bioengineering department.

What do you find rewarding about your research? The satisfaction of pursuing the challenges in my very specific field of interest and knowing that I’m a part of a team helping people battle blindness and other retinal diseases and improving their quality of life.

One thing you think UIC does better than anywhere else: The multicultural atmosphere around the campus makes me feel like it’s a home away from home.

How you get around: By bike.

Giulia Crocioni

Giulia Crocioni

MS in Bioengineering ’19

Academic focus: Neural engineering

How do you hope your research will create positive change in the world? I hope it will help physicians in detecting diseases.

Favorite place in Chicago: Millennium Park

Place you’re most likely to be found on campus: The library because it is a comfortable place to study.

Oksana Persidina

student Oksana Persidina

MS in Bioengineering ’20

Why UIC? Democratic atmosphere and great opportunities for research are making UIC the right place for students who want to achieve their independent goals.

Coursework option or thesis option: Thesis option

Research interest: Mathematical modeling of biological processes. My research project is aimed to create a synthetic vascular model of the eye that could be further used for simulation of different pathological conditions and better understanding the mechanisms of their developments.

What do you find rewarding about your research? The opportunities to learn so many things and contribute to improving medical care by discovering new and better ways of diagnosis and treatments.

Where you’re most likely to be found on campus: At the library.

Matthew Tomback

student Matthew Tomback

MS in Bioengineering ’19
Vernon Hills, IL

Research interest: Wearable sensors and embedded devices. I hope my work will be a part of a wave of research in the field that helps to bring affordable wearable Internet of Things-connected assistive devices to the mainstream.

Best thing about UIC: The great camaraderie working with such an incredible group of faculty, lab members, and other peers to advance our mutual and independent research goals.

Most likely to be found on-campus:  The engineering research labs or the UIC Innovation Center.

How about off-campus? North Avenue Beach.

Lara Nammari


MS in Bioengineering
Chicago Suburbs

Why UIC? I chose UIC Bioengineering because of the many research opportunities available to students and the close ties the department has with the College of Medicine, which allows for collaborative projects.

Academic area of focus: Biomedical Imaging

Research project: I am currently working in the Medical Accelerator for Devices Laboratory (MADLab) in an interdisciplinary team across medical, computer science, business and industrial design specialties. We’re creating a continuous EEG monitoring system for traumatic brain injury patients to predict when cerebral herniation will occur.

Favorite place in Chicago: West Loop